The coronavirus pandemic is a reminder for people to admit their “sins to the environment.”
This was the the message of Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan at the start of the weeklong observance of the fifth anniversary of Laudato si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, on May 16.
In his message, Bishop David called on Filipinos to offer this year’s observance for those who have been affected by the global health crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
He said that because of the pandemic the theme of “interrelatedness” and “interdependence” emphasized in the pope’s encyclical has become more real now.
The prelate noted that everyone, even the most powerful nations, is confronted by a microscopic virus “that is causing so much suffering and death on humankind.”
“We realized that we are not the almighty creatures that we may have thought we were,” said Bishop David, adding that the world has been “rendered utterly helpless before this unseen enemy.”
He said the months under quarantine should be an opportunity for people to “examine and humbly admit our sins to the environment.”
Bishop David said humanity has forgotten that “we are mere stewards” of creation.
“[When we] harm the web that connects us to each other, we end up harming not just creation but our very selves,” he said.
The prelate reiterated the call of Pope Francis against the pursuit of “short-term economic gains” that can only result in the destruction of the planet.
Bishop David said that as people talk about “the new normal” in a post-pandemic situation, everybody should also think whether “what we used to call normal was really not normal.”
The prelate said the world is facing an unprecedented scale of global crisis because people have forgotten “our divinely ordained role as stewards” and “not owners of creation.”
A series of webinars and online forums have on various ecological concerns have been set by the Global Catholic Climate Movement – Pilipinas from May 18 to 24.
John Din, national coordinator of the movement, said Pope Francis’ encyclical invites people to “reflect on our ways of living” especially amid the pandemic.
“The coronavirus disease gives us the window to look at what we have been doing in the so-called normal life,” said Din, a Columban lay missionary.
“The normal life that we have been living, for all we know, might be worst than the COVDI-19 virus,” he said.
The online discussions will tackle how the pandemic “forced” people to think about healthier ways of doing things.
He noted that even the government is promoting the use of bicycles. “We are forced to think about what is really essential in our lives,” said Din.
Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Philippine bishops’ conference, is set to launch a program that “promotes food sovereignty” in communities affected by the pandemic.
Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action, said the program is a response to the call of Laudato si’ to adopt a “green lifestyle.”
“The will involve everyone at the community level in our local parishes,” he said.
“It aims to provide a sustainable source of food in preparation for the impact of the pandemic in our economy,” he added.
The program, which will be launched later this week, will run for one year as part of Caritas’ COVID-19 pandemic response.